The Sharks took the fight to the Oaks Christian Lions, but could not overcome a slow first half. There were high expectations on Malibu and the game was far more competitive than the final score of 46-37 suggested.
The Lions pressed early in the first quarter and Malibu battled to get its shots. When the Sharks broke the press lay ups and free throws flowed Malibu’s way, especially for junior center, Justin Holmes. The teams traded baskets until the final minute of the first quarter.
While leading 10-8, Oaks closed the quarter on a 7-0 run that created a hole that eventually would be too great for Malibu to overcome. In the second quarter, Oaks continued to keep up the physical pressure on Malibu and drove home the advantage to end the half up 30-12. Malibu showed flashes of defense, epitomized by senior forward, Vinnie van Patten standing tall and blocking a Lion’s jump shot. At the halftime break, the Sharks had to go back to the drawing board to prevent the game totally getting away from them.
The Sharks came out in the second half and matched the physical play of the Lions with their own physical defense. All of sudden, Oaks started making mental errors. Junior guard, Anthony Kodomichalos led the Sharks’ defensive effort, harassing Oaks’ guards and shooters altering numerous shots. The Lions found it hard to make a basket, only scoring 6 points in the quarter. While the Sharks played a relatively clean game with few fouls so far in the game, Malibu forced Oaks to commit 5 offensive fouls with Kodomichalos taking three charges and one each by senior forward Will Rosenthal and junior guard, Jonathan “Boogie” Baldwin. The Sharks continued to grind out the quarter, ending it behind 36-22.
The question was whether the Sharks would fade in the fourth quarter or whether they had one more run left in them. With Kodomichalos leading the guards and Holmes playing large down low in defense (both played the entire second half), Malibu continued to pressure Oaks Christian into mistakes closing the deficit to 7 points midway through the final quarter. In the end, the first half deficit was just too much to overcome for the Sharks, falling short 46-37. Malibu can take consolation that if they could match their second half intensity in the first, the result may have been very different.
While Kodomichalos was the heart of the defense, Holmes took advantage of the press scoring 22 points, collecting 7 rebounds and 1 block; Kodomichalos had 5 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals (in addition to forcing the three charges); Rosenthal had 4 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds (1 charge); senior guard, Andrew Yazdani, who was also a terrier in defense, picked up 3 points, 3 assists; and freshman guard, Frankie McGovern chipped in with 3 points.
The Sharks play their next two games away, on Saturday night at Santa Clara and Wednesday night at Bishop Diego (Santa Barbara), before returning home to Malibu on Friday, Jan. 18 to face last year’s Tri-Valley League champions, Oak Park. Tickets are available at the door with the Varsity game starting at 7pm.